Emotional availability: Research advances and theoretical questions

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The commentary opens by highlighting the contribution of the Emotional Availability Scales (EAS) in providing developmental researchers with a clinically sensitive and reliable assessment of the emotional quality of caregiver-child interactions that takes into consideration their coregulated nature. The numerous studies that have used the EAS attest to their usefulness and to the way they balance complexity and attention to emotional nuances with clarity. Several issues with regard to the EAS are discussed subsequently. First, I propose that looking at patterns of the EA scales might be a way to capture the quality of each dyad's emotional dialogue. Second, I suggest that the description of attachment research as concerned almost exclusively with the regulation of distress is inaccurate, in light of Ainsworth's broad assessment of naturalistic home observations. Third, I raise the possibility that additional specialized coding systems beyond the EAS may be needed for predicting certain specific psychopathological outcomes (e.g., disorganized attachment). Fourth, I propose that it is important to explore cross-culturally the meaning of the behaviors on which the EAS focus, rather than assume cross-cultural equivalence. Fifth and finally, I point out the importance of placing the EAS in the context of the existing literature on early intervention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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